What part of "No" doesn't Bishop MacBurney understand?

Episcopal Cafe has learned that Bishop Edward MacBurney, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, once inhibited and then returned to retired status, has agreed to serve as "interim" bishop for the clergy and people formerly of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy now formed under the Province of the Southern Cone as a diocese there.

Preludium had observed only yesterday, "Nothing has been heard from the Diocese of Quincy. But one can be sure that some sort of episcopal oversight of the breakaway group is being organized beyond having a deputy appointed from the Southern Cone to supervise." I had supposed that the Anglican Church in North America would take on the issue of episcopal oversight. It now appears that the Province of the Southern Cone and the leadership of the breakaway group are not waiting.

He had been inhibited for acting in an episcopal capacity in the jurisdiction of a diocese not his own, San Diego. Episcopal Cafe details the events and the reaction from various conservative groups.

Inhibition was later lifted and Bishop MacBurney was admonished to make amends. He was returned to his former status as a retired bishop in good standing.

The decision to act in an episcopal capacity for a group now part of another province but active in the jurisdiction of a diocese of The Episcopal Church once again puts Bishop MacBurney's status in The Episcopal Church at risk. Indeed, if true Bishop MacBurney is subject to the charge of abandoning the communion of this church and possible inhibited and deposition.

The Bishop is now 80 years old and it could be hoped that his desire to serve people he has served in the past in communities he has loved is guided by the very best of pastoral intentions. Under other circumstances we might wish him every success in this pastoral ministry taken at this time in his life.

But in the current situation, when it has been made clear to Bishop MacBurney what the limits of his ministry entail, the news of his willingness to undertake this work leads to questions about the bishop's state of mind. Has his generosity of spirit combined with some slip in understanding of the canonical limitations on his right to act in an episcopal capacity led to this as an unfortunate but well intentioned willingness to serve? Or is he in some way becoming limited in capacity to know the consequences of an agreement taken with those who have become part of another province?

One way or another this decision raises questions, either of his willingness or ability to understand the limits of his office. This is sad news.


  1. Sad indeed, one hopes, with great charity, that Bishop MacBurney is merely confounded (again) due to fast talking zealots who have used him repeatedly.

  2. If the report is correct, I don't see much of a choice. The bishop will again be inhibited and I suppose eventually deposed. That is very very sad, but I do not see any alternative.


  3. The Bishop is now 80 years old and yet the Constitution and Canons of the Southern Cone require bishops to retire from active ministry absolutely by age 68. Oh well, the rules of the Episcopal Church don't matter to them, why should their own rules matter?

  4. Oh, sigh. I live only 70 miles from Quincy, IL and I look over at my bretheren on the other side of the Mississippi and repeatedly shake my head and say, "I just don't get it. It's a whole 'nother world."

  5. I cannot answer the question in the second to last paragraph. I don't know the man and cannot pass judgement.

    All I can say is that my 95 year old mom, when 80, was lucid to a "T". Only after a very mild stroke at about 92 did she begin to really lose her ability to logic.

    If there is someone in TEC--an old friend of his--on the opposite site of this mess, I would hope they would reach out to him and try to understand his logic in a kind and careful conversation.

    This situation is painful in many ways. Your post elucidates the greatest for this reader.

    This whole mess should have been avoidable. But then again, TEC has been through this before and will likely go through it again I suppose.

    Humans are stubborn creatures.

  6. "The decision to act in an episcopal capacity for a group now part of another province but active in the jurisdiction of a diocese of The Episcopal Church once again puts Bishop MacBurney's status in The Episcopal Church at risk."

    OH DEAR! So, he will be out of TECUSA but in the AC

  7. Just as the deposed bishop of Recife is in the AC, Observer.

  8. First, I must say that I do not know Bishop MacBurney or even know much about him. The simplest explanation, however, is that, like other “orthodox” leaders, the good bishop simply has no integrity, as most of us understand that term. His action is a slap in the face to the Bishop of San Diego and to the Presiding Bishop. With his history of misbehavior, why should we give MacBurney the benefit of the doubt? If the bishop is that obtuse concerning the issues related to his latest position, he needs to be in the home.

  9. Yes, he is, Lapin..... and he will be in a year from now.....not sure we can say the same for TECUSA post BO33 and GC09..... except I expect a form of words to be found in GC09 to keep TECUSA in the ABC's club, even it does not in reality respect those words.

  10. Just as the deposed bishop of Recife is in the AC, Observer.

    Yes, he is, Lapin..... and he will be in a year from now.

    Not as far as the ABC is concerned, he was specifically not invited to the Lambeth Conference. Not as far as the AC is concerned, he and his faux diocese are nowhere to be seen on the website, and they have had years to do the update. And probably not as far as most of the provinces of the AC are concerned. We cannot know for sure because there has not been a survey of the provinces on this topic. However, most of the AC provinces are very traditional about accepting the word of another province when it says that a bishop has been deposed.

    The only folks considering this deposed pretender a bishop, let alone Anglican, are the usual suspects among the Global South primates.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.